Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
The Boston Celtics overcame a 16-point second-quarter deficit to defeat the host Los Angeles Clippers 119-115 on Friday at Staples Center.
Boston trailed 62-51 at the half but took a 89-82 lead into the fourth quarter after hitting eight three-pointers. Tatum, who hit two of them, scored 12 of his game-high 34 points in the third.
Undeterred, the Clippers stormed back and took the lead on two separate occasions in the fourth quarter, with the last one occurring after Lou Williams nailed a baseline three-pointer off a Kawhi Leonard feed for a 111-109 advantage.
C’s point guard Kemba Walker responded with a mid-range jumper that turned out to be the game-winner:
Leonard missed his own shot on the other end. The Clips then fouled Celtics big man Tristan Thompson, who hit two free throws for a 115-112 edge with 26.3 seconds left.
Leonard then took a three for the tie but was off the mark. Grant Williams hit two free throws for the C’s this time, but Lou Williams coolly knocked down a three to bring L.A. within two with 8.3 seconds remaining.
However, Walker iced the game from the free throw line, hitting two more for a four-point lead that sealed the win.
Tatum had 34 points on 12-of-27 shooting and four steals. Kemba Walker’s 24 points led four other Celtics in double digits.
Leonard’s 28-point, 11-rebound night paced the Clips, who had five other players score 13 or more points, including Williams with his 18.
Celtics F Jayson Tatum: 34 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals
Celtics PG Kemba Walker: 24 points, 4 assists
Celtics SG Carsen Edwards: 16 points, 4 rebounds
Clippers F Kawhi Leonard: 28 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists
Clippers G Lou Williams: 18 points, 6 assists
Clippers F Nicolas Batum: 16 points, 7 rebounds
Tatum’s Phenomenal Night Propels C’s to Win
The onus was on Tatum and his teammates to step up on both ends in Brown and Smart’s absence, and they did just that with the ex-Duke star leading the way by scoring from everywhere on the court.
Tatum exhibited his excellent footwork with this baseline bucket:
When things looked dire in the early going with the C’s down 20-9, Tatum delivered by hitting a clutch three:
Tatum kept the game from getting out of hand in the second quarter, too, bursting through the lane for this slam dunk to pull Boston within 11:
The C’s trailed by 11 entering halftime, but Tatum took over from that point, doing work from downtown:
When he wasn’t knocking down threes, Tatum was slicing through the lane once again, this time evading three Clippers defenders for a bucket:
The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth brawl, with the Clippers erasing the deficit. But Tatum continued to dominate, hitting yet another three to put the C’s up eight:
Tatum’s teammates took over down the stretch, with Walker hitting some clutch buckets and multiple players nailing their free throws. But it was Tatum who prevented a potential blowout from getting out of hand, enabling the C’s to come back and earn an excellent road win.
Kawhi, Balanced Scoring Attack Fall Just Short Vs. C’s
It was the Leonard and Tatum show for much of the game, with the two exchanging blows on either end during a fantastic game.
Leonard vaulted the Clips into a 15-4 lead early thanks to this smooth move to the rim:
He ended up carrying the scoring load with George out, but the rest of the Clips came to play too, with six players scoring in double digits overall.
Luke Kennard, who replaced George in the starting five, nearly got there by himself early on:
Nicolas Batum benefitted from some excellent ball movement, hitting a three from the elbow to keep the Clippers’ first-half onslaught going:
Center Ivica Zubac was a force to be reckoned with, dunking over Thompson following a pretty feed from Williams:
Speaking of Williams, Sweet Lou was the catalyst for the Clippers’ fourth-quarter run, notably knocking down this bucket to pull his team within four:
LA Clippers @LAClippers
[email protected] draws the foul and drops the bucket.
@FoxSportsWest | #ClipperNation https://t.co/9dK3HgDXHq
Eventually, the Clippers and Celtics began trading leads, with Leonard giving the Clips a 108-106 edge with another clutch bucket:
Williams gave the Clips another lead with his three, but the C’s were able to keep their foot on the gas while L.A. came up empty on the other end.
The ending to this one is undoubtedly disappointing for the Clippers, but the balanced offensive attack (buoyed by another solid Leonard outing) is a positive to take away heading into the next game.
Both teams will play on Sunday.
The Celtics will visit the Phoenix Suns on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET, and the Clippers will host the Sacramento Kings at 3 p.m.